James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants
Click on picture for enlargement

Birth, childhood & education

Domgay chapel Elias Owen was born in Montgomeryshire on Monday, 2 December 1833. The evidence indicates that he was born in Llandysilio (or Llandisilio) (map 1). His obituary in the The North Wales Chronicle states that this was his ‘native parish’, as does the record of his christening on 11 December 1833 at Domgay Congregational or Independent Church; the chapel is actually at Four Crosses, on what is now the A483. Domgay was a township in the parish of Llandysilio and it was where his family were living at the time of his christening. Llandysilio is given as his place of birth in all but the 1881 census which states he was born in the neighbouring parish of Llandrinio. His mother and one of his sisters were christened at Llandysilio Parish Church and in 1834 his brother Elijah was born in that same parish. His obituary in the Montgomeryshire Collections states that he was born at Holywell, near Penrhos, which is where his grandfather Thomas Owen is thought to have farmed. Indisputably, it is in this area that Elias spent the first few years of his life. I believe the family then moved briefly to Montgomery but by the time Elias was six years old his family had settled in Llanidloes. His many articles and books reveal aspects of his childhood and the world of folklore in which he and his siblings grew up.

Information about Llanildoes (and, on the following page, early pictures) can be seen (here).

Elias received a good formal education at Lanidloes National School, the foundation stone of which was laid with great ceremony on 1 January 1845. It was built, largely through public subscription and on land donated by a local resident. Elias subsequently became a pupil-teacher there; such was his occupation in 1851 when he was living with his parents and siblings at Club Buildings, Lower Green, Llanidloes. He won a Queen’s Scholarship, and went to Culham, where he qualified with first-class honours. Culham is in Oxfordshire, about six miles south of Oxford; he later gave his place of education on enrolment at Trinity College, Dublin as ‘Oxford Diocesan College’. It may be that his experience of Oxford influenced the decisions of his younger brother Thomas William and of his own son Edwin James to study at Oxford University.